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Joppatowne High School student Doug Wolf flashes $300 on the school bus. He shows it off while walking into school. He leaves $300 lying on the side of the basketball court while he goes to shoot hoops. Another $300 is nearly falling out of his back pocket.

Sounds like Doug Wolf has a lot of money to throw around.

Not necessarily.

He was featured in January’s student safety awareness message being promoted by the Harford County Sheriff’s Office. It’s a new program in which the sheriff’s office will regularly send out youth targeted safety messages. It kicked off this year with a video produced in-house.

The video featuring Doug Wolf ends with a question, asking viewers why, if they wouldn’t leave $300 lying around, they would leave a cell phone or iPod unsecured.

A senior, Doug collaborated with Joppatowne English teacher Chris Wilson and school resource officer DFC Greg Dietz to create the video after a series of iPod and cell phone thefts at the end of the last school year.

The student, teacher and deputy all noticed “a sudden trend of iPod theft” at the school and responded by making a video to remind students to keep their valuables safe, Monica Worrell, public information specialist for the sheriff’s office, said.

“A lot of kids don’t realize how much the iPods cost,” Dietz said.

The school presented the video during the video portion of morning announcements.

Dietz said when the video first aired in school, students were shocked by the $100 bills.

“Most of the kids don’t see $100 bills, much less three $100 bills,” Dietz said. “When it got to the punch line they were kind of like, ‘ah you got me.’”

Dietz said the video grabbed students’ attention and made the intended point.

The video took three hours to produce, including taping and editing time. There was no cost to produce the video because involvement was voluntary and the featured music was among music that is licensed to the school for morning announcements.

“We saved it to use in January because often students or young adults get iPods and cell phones at Christmas or over the holiday,” Worrell said.

The video is part of youth-oriented messaging the county can expect to see throughout the year.

“That is something we’re introducing into our messaging from the Harford County Sheriff’s Office,” Worrell said.

The young adult messages are expected to cover topics like cyber-bullying, preventing identity theft and keeping personal information private, how to approach social media, underage drinking, drug use and other issues that are important to teens.

The sheriff’s office has partnered with the school system and office of drug control policy in developing and marketing these safety messages. As part of that partnership, posters will be put up in Harford County high schools with a coinciding safety message geared toward students.

“We’ve completed eight posters,” Worrell said.

The messages in those posters will be reinforced with e-mailed messaging like the one this month.

Worrell said school resource officers are very involved in the project because they have a strong sense of the issues and trends in the county’s schools.

Videos are expected to be a part of the messaging campaign, but in the future those videos will most likely come from resources like the National Crime Prevention Council.

“There’s a lot of good resources out there for us to utilize and right now all of our money is being focused on public safety needs,” Worrell said.

The sheriff’s office has been distributing safety messages since the end of 2008, through e-mail, the sheriff’s office website and most recently its Facebook page.

These messages cover topics like traffic safety.

“These are messages that we put out to the community all the time, but this has been our opportunity to reach out to young adults with some youth-specific messaging,” Worrell said. “What we’re trying to do is couple our adult message with our youth message.”

Worrell said 4,000 people have signed up for the e-mail messages and more than 1,000 people on average open those messages when they are sent.

“We are seeing a 30-percent open rate on our e-mails when we send them to the community when industry standard is 23 percent,” Worrell said.

Worrell said she receives positive feedback regularly about the messages.

“As the world becomes more used to seeing messaging in more media modes, we’re looking to distribute these messages to the public in these ways as well,” Worrell said.

Part of getting out these safety messages is to send the information directly to members of the community.

“We’re utilizing today’s technology to get pertinent messaging to the citizens,” Worrell said.

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